“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung…” I’ll let you take it from here. Twas the Night Before Christmas is one of the most quoted and most beloved poems in the English language and a Christmastime staple for many families.
But this year, a Canadian mom is changing the classic by eliminating the lines that refer to Santa smoking a pipe. Publisher Pamela McColl says that kids are impressionable (oh so true) and that exposure to smoking, especially from role models like Santa, could lead them to believe that smoking is OK – or at least OK to try. The edited version is available for purchase on Amazon.
There’s also a note from Santa included to explain the omission: “In this updated edition select lines have quietly slipped from the pages. Here at the North Pole we decided to leave all of that old tired business of smoking well behind us and I am pleased to report that we have never been healthier or happier. The reindeer asked that I confirm the fact that I have only ever worn fake fur out of respect for the endangered species that are in need of our protection, including my dear friends those arctic polar bears.”
Dallas Morning News health blogger Nancy Churnin says McColl has a point (and the literary honors to back it up). Others, such as the American Library Association, are crying censorship, comparing this publication to a recent modification of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that omits racially inappropriate language.
So what do you think? Is changing a classic a legitimate way to prevent kids from smoking? Is this a good step for 21st century parents? Will you buy this new edition?
And whether or not you agree with McColl, she has a point about kids and media. One good way to bring up smoking with your kids is to talk about examples of smoking you encounter in TV shows, books and movies. Point out what may be misleading in these depictions of smoking, like what effects of smoking you don’t see by movie’s end. Even pipe-smoking Santa could be a good conversation starter for your family.
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